West Building Sculpture Galleries
Ongoing
West Building Ground Floor

Overview: The sculpture galleries display more than nine hundred works of art from the permanent collection. They feature primarily European sculpture dating from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century and one of the world's finest collections of medals and plaquettes, as well as decorative arts, related paintings, and a special display room for rare books. Several galleries and three French period rooms have been renovated, and seventeen new galleries have been designed to relate to the neoclassical spaces on the West Building's upper floor by architect John Russell Pope. Maximum use is made of natural light, allowing visitors to see many of the sculptures clearly in large spacious galleries.

Highlights of works include the bejeweled twelfth-century Chalice of the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis; Leone Battista Alberti's bronze relief Self-Portrait, c. 1435; a distinguished group of Italian Renaissance bronze statuettes; Honoré Daumier's entire bronze sculptural oeuvre, including all thirty-six of his caricatured portrait busts of French government officials; a selection of sculptures made by Auguste Rodin for his American patrons, among them his life-size plaster, The Age of Bronze, modeled in 1875–1876 and cast in 1898 (also represented in the collection by a bronze reduction cast in 1903–1904); two-thirds of the original wax and mixed-media sculptures by Edgar Degas; and rare European sculptors' reference books dating from the sixteenth century.

Sponsor: The sculpture galleries renovation project was supported in part by a generous grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation in honor of Paul Mellon.

Passes: Admission is always free and passes are not required.

Image: Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, Allegory of Africa, conceived 1863/1865, cast date unknown, bronze, Gift of the 50th Anniversary Gift Committee, 1991.84.1

Audio and Video